Friday, June 26, 2009

...And I Said "I Will NEVER..."

Parenthood definitely changes a person. Over the past month and a half since becoming a foster mom, I've found myself doing things that I SWORE I would NEVER do when I had children. There must be some kind of weird pheromones that ooze from children's pores that cause adults to do unspeakably odd things when it comes to their care.

So what have I done that has caused me to cringe you might ask?
  • Butt-sniffing - Yes, it took all of one day for me to pick up the fully-clothed baby and sniff his rear end to see if the offending odor was coming from him or the catbox. The first time I saw someone perform the butt-sniffing maneuver, I wanted to cry. I remember my Aunt Amy, who I always thought of as extremely cool and sophisticated, picking up my tiny baby cousin and sniffing her hind end. I was MORTIFIED! "Say it isn't so!!! Please tell me you didn't just do that!!!" After one day with Booger, however, I quickly learned the logic behind the baby bottom sniffing. It's a hassle to take off all of the clothes only to discover a dry diaper. And trust me when I say you DO NOT want to take your finger and pull at the diaper to "take a peek." I learned that the hard way.

  • Spit-cleaning - I have always thought the most disgusting thing my mother ever did to me was the whole "licking her fingers and wiping my face" thing. I can still remember how it felt. SO GROSS!!! I swore that if there was only one thing that I would never repeat with my children, the spit-cleaning thing would be it. So imagine my dilemma the other morning when I noticed that the baby had dried something on his face, and I didn't have a wipe or any water handy. I'll admit, I did think long and hard before licking my fingers and rubbing away at his face. "Will he remember the trauma of being spit-cleaned at this early age?" "If I do this, will I scar him for life as I was?" "Will spit-cleaning spread nasty germs that will make him sick?" Ultimately, my need for a clean appearance won out over my need for sanitary conditions, and the baby made it into daycare with a clean face and, hopefully not, overly-scarred ego.

  • Self-Banishment - When I was a teenager, I always thought it was cool that my parents would make themselves scarce when I had my friends over. They would go to their bedroom, and my friends and I would have the run of the house. So cool of them, I thought... But then the selfish side of me had me thinking. Well, when I have kids, there's no way I'm going to let them push me out of my own living room! They're just going to have to hang out with me, or find someplace else to chill! That was all fine and dandy until I suddenly found myself with a 16-year-old foster daughter and a houseful of her friends. The first night they were all over at the house, I found myself sitting OUTSIDE on the patio talking on the phone while they were all watching TV (the TV that I had been watching until they showed up) in my living room. And you know what? It worked for me! I had a little peace and quiet, and the kids were all in the next room where I could walk in on them at any moment to see what they were up to. My parents actually knew what they were doing! Imagine that! ;-)
  • Playing "Detective" - I was always irritated that my mom seemed to know every little thing I did. My sister was so convinced that Mom was psychic that she would just confess everything before Mom even had a chance to question her. I was a pretty good kid. I never really got into much trouble, but that was because I was convinced that my mother was spying on me. I would never do that to my kids! But now that I have a teen of my own, I know that I was right about her spying on me. I know, because I've had to do it myself. Parents are SO much smarter than we ever gave them credit for! I know when my girl is "embellishing the truth." And it's amazing what kind of information and proof you can get from the Internet and stay-at-home neighbors.
  • The Soothing Car Ride - I'll admit it. I've done it a few times already even though I swore I'd never resort to it. Crying, fussy, sleepy baby absolutely refusing to go to sleep... He's done everything he can think of to keep himself awake. He talks, he sings, he slaps his head, he "jumps" in my arms, he blows spit bubbles, he plays with my glasses, he picks my nose... ANYTHING he can think of to stay awake. After about 45 minutes of this, I'll admit Mimi (that's me) has resorted to loading Booger in the car and driving on the bumpiest road I can find. Mimi is a smart woman. He's usually out before I leave the parking lot. While I don't want to make it a habit, I will admit the occasional soothing car ride works miracles. :-)
  • To Bathe, or NOT to Bathe - Yeah... I'll admit it. There have been a few days where I have let personal hygiene slide for a few extra minutes of sleep. I'm not ashamed of it either. Sleep is a good thing. I never really thought that I would forgo cleanliness for beauty sleep (especially seeing as how "beauty sleep" doesn't really work if you stink), but when you go from eight hours of sleep a night and two-hour naps on the weekends to six hours of sleep and NO naps, you'll do just about anything for a few extra minutes of rest. With a baby and a 16-year-old in the house, it seems that I am always awake for one reason or another! In my defense, I always smell myself first to make certain I'm not too rancid before deciding to forget about a full-fledged shower and shampoo. And I promise, it's not a regular occurrence. For the most part, I'm clean. :-)
Yep... I've found myself doing lots of "I would NEVER's" over the past couple of months. I suppose it's all good though. I never thought that I would have a baby and teenager at the same time, but it's turning out to be the best thing I've ever done. So what if I'm a butt-sniffing, spit-cleaning, car ride-soothing, smelly, self-banished detective!?! These kids are worth it!!! :-)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Farkly Frustrated"

Hi, my name is Mimi... And I am addicted to Farkle.

What began as an innocent attempt to relive my teen years through the electronic version of one of my favorite dice games quickly developed into massively emotional highs and lows known in the Farkle World as episodes of "Farkle Fever," "Farkle Frenzy," and "Farkle Frustration."

In the past couple of weeks since rediscovering the game (thanks alot, Lori!), I have spent God only knows how many hours clicking away at the mouse and dreaming of 1's and 5's. "Do I roll?" "Do I stay?" "Do I risk farkling and losing all of my points?" OH!!! THE PRESSURE!!! So what if it's after midnight and the baby will be waking up at 5:30 for a diaper change and his morning bottle? "MUST BEAT HIGH SCORE!!!" "MUST BE #1 IN THE RANKINGS!!!"

I have no idea how many times I have growled at the stupid computer for "Farkling" me when I was rolling all six dice. "Farkle Frustration" does strange things to people. I have found myself muttering bad words under my breath and making faces at the screen. I get mad and think that by playing another game, I'll teach the computer a lesson. I refuse to accept that the computer doesn't care one bit whether or not I'm mad at it.

I tell myself I won't stop until I have beaten my high score. Unfortunately, I had one insanely good game, and my high score is so high that I don't think I'll EVER be able to beat it! But does that stop me? OF COURSE NOT!!! Nope... I continue to sit at the computer night after night, clicking away at the mouse "rolling" the dice, trying to get those 1's and 5's.

Hi, my name is Tammy... And I am addicted to Farkle.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

To Be 16 Again...

Wow! I didn't realize that it had been so long since I'd last posted! Life has definitely been crazy now that I am the foster mom of an 8-month-old (whose shortened nickname of "Booger Bear" appears to have stayed with him :-) and his 16-year-old bio mom (who I will refer to as "Angel" in my blog). It's going really well though, and I couldn't be happier!

Angel's been with me a little over a week, and it seems to be working out well. It turns out that she and I have quite a lot of common interests (ex. photography, arts and crafts, same taste in music for the most part, same taste in foods, etc. We even like the same shampoo!). I coached gymnastics for several years, and she was into competitive gymnastics and cheering before she got pregnant. The first night she was home, we sat and talked for a couple of hours. A friend of hers ended up calling me because she was worried about Angel not checking in with her. Angel got on the phone and apologized for not calling. She said that she was "having so much fun that she forgot." :-)

Angel and I have a good routine going so far as far as caring for Booger and the house. The dynamic between Booger and Angel is more of "big sister, baby brother" so it has made it easy for me to take on the role of Mama. The only problem is that he already knows Angel as "Mama" or "Mommy," so I'm calling myself "Mimi." Angel has taken on quite a bit of the household chores (including the cooking!), so it works out really well for both of us. She gets overwhelmed by caring for Booger, and I hate doing housework, so it evens out. :-)

I have to admit, I had forgotten what it was like to be 16. In the past week, I have met a boy who Angel told me was "maybe my boyfriend." In five days the conversation went from, "I'm not sure if he's my boyfriend or not." "He's my boyfriend." "My boyfriend is smothering me!" "I'm avoiding my boyfriend." ...and finally, "I broke up with my boyfriend." Too funny! I think my sister and I have BOTH had that same conversation with our mom at that age too. :-)

I also got Angel her own cell phone last week. THANK GOODNESS we made a deal regarding unlimited texting! I told her that I was going to give her an allowance for all of the help that she does around the house, and she asked if I could deduct the $30 a month that it would cost for unlimited texting on her cell phone. No problem! And thank goodness I agreed!!! Because in the past six days since she got her phone, she has sent and received nearly 2300 messages!!! (Although she never would have done that if she didn't have unlimited messaging. She was really good about it when I let her have my cell phone during the day before hers came. She's also great about keeping an eye on her cellular minutes because I didn't get a big calling plan for that.) 2300 messages in six days!!! That's nuts!!! I told her not to come whining when she gets carpal tunal. I know she hates doctors, but that will be her own fault. :-)

So far, things are going really well with my new little family. Everyone continue to keep us in your prayers!

Friday, June 5, 2009

I'm Gonna Be a... Grandma?!?

Wow! What a difference a week makes!!! It looks like I'm gaining a 16-year-old foster daughter as soon as tonight!

The Booger Bear had a visit with his mommy yesterday, and I went along to meet with her and all of the caseworkers. We ended up talking for almost two hours. Baby J's mom really needs a stable place she can call "home," and has made the decision to go into foster care herself. Because of her age, they wanted the decision to be hers. She's really scared, but she seems like a great kid who's just had a rough go of it growing up.

I don't think she realized that I was seriously considering having her come live with me. Ultimately, she wanted to be with Baby J, but I think she was under the impression that she'd be living somewhere else for a while. She seemed happy when she realized that I was planning on having her live with us (well, as happy as a trying to be brave 16-year-old will openly let on anyway... :-)

It will definitely be an adjustment for both of us. She's been pretty much on her own most of her teen years, and I've been a single woman living on my own for quite some time now (I won't be pointing out that it's been almost as long as she's been alive). She's used to answering only to herself, and I'm definitely not used to being the mom (or is it grandma?) of an 8-month-old and the mom of a 16-year-old. And certainly not all in one month's time!

I'm sure we'll have some battles because it seems we're equally strong-willed, but we seem to have a lot of common interests and we both love Baby J and want what's best for him. She seems to have a good head on her shoulders and is definitely making long-term plans and is thinking ahead as far as what is going to be best for the two of them. The first thing she asked me when she realized that she could live with me was, "Would you mind if I apply for a job at the such-and-such down the street? School just got out today, and I'd really like to start saving money." Would I mind if you get a job?!? Heck no! Go for it! Save away!!! She had already said that she wanted to get a job ASAP, and that was before she knew she could live with me, so the fact that she asked me if I was okay with it was a good start.

I really hope she is willing to accept the help and stability that I'm offering. She's so independent, and openly admitted that she has trouble accepting help from people. But she also realizes that she needs to try to accept what's offered, if not for her sake, then for J's. I've just had a soft spot in my heart for this girl since the very beginning, and I've felt the "mother hen" coming out in me when it comes to her (possibly more-so with her than with Baby J.) She's going into it knowing what I expect from her so there are no surprises there, and also knowing that I have a lot to offer her and J as far as stability and an actual extended family that she can depend on.

Just keep us all in your prayers for a while. It's definitely going to be a bumpy road until we can find what works best for our little family. But I'm hopeful that everything will work out in the end.
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